The first of the Gold Balls get handed out today in a historic Boys/Girls Doubleheader.
Let’s go to the math.
The model doesn’t think this will be very close, despite it being a matchup of the 1st overall and 4th overall teams in the state. Greely has just been that good. The simple way to look at it is this: Greely played a significantly harder schedule and did better against it. Hampden has played exactly 1 team in the top 25, #25 Bangor, and they split the season series with them. Greely, on the other hand, went 11-0 against the Top 25. They played 1 team outside the top 55. Hampden played 10. Hampden has been dominant, but Greely has been more dominant against much better teams.
The model says Greely is a 82% favorite. Teams that the model pegs as an 82% or higher favorite this year are 461-1 in boys games. Narrow it down to 80%-90% and they’re 225-0.
If Hampden is going to go home with some hardware, the girls game is a much better bet. They’ve got the obvious matchup nightmare in Bailey Donovan. Against Brunswick, Greely did most of their damage in the paint, so Donovan’s shot-blocking would obviously come into play. Worth noting is that despite Hampden’s consistent size advantage (Donovan is 6’3″ and Narofsky is 5’10”), they didn’t have the rebounding advantage you’d expect. They were out-rebounded by Lawrence in the semis by a pretty significant margin (Lawrence held them to 2 offensive rebounds).
Hampden ended up with a few more rebounds, but only because Lawrence was ice-cold from the field. The DRB% (Defensive Rebounding Rate) and ORB% (Offensive Rebounding Rate) are the key numbers here. The numbers against Messalonskee aren’t as bad, but still not in Hampden’s favor (DREB%: 71% to 68%; OREB%: 32% to 29%). Greely’s tallest regular is 5’8″. If they’re getting rebounds early, Hampden will be in trouble.
Editor’s note: I went to the Hampden/Lawrence and Hampden/Messo games, so stats are from my tracking. I’m that nerd who keeps score when he goes to Fenway.